The author and his screen.

Earlier this year, Eric Fidler created an open source transit information screen that shows real-time Metro and bus arrivals, and bike availability at Capital Bikeshare stations. Now, you can make your own.

Recently, I designed my own screen using the code Eric created, and mounted a tablet computer on the wall of my apartment to be my personal transit screen, as seen here.

With a glance at the screen, I can see arrival times for the Metro and bus routes I use. It saves me time, replaces various mobile transit apps, and reminds me and visiting friends about options we might otherwise overlook.

Whether you’re a coder interested in creating transit-information technologies, a web designer, or just a transit enthusiast, you can build one of these for your own space. Or for your friend, relative, apartment or condo building, school, church, or favorite bar.


A transit screen layout on an iPad.


I’ve organized a Transit Screens Hack Day on Saturday, November 10. Bring your computer, and everyone who participates will go home with a personal transit screen.

You can run it on any web browser. If you have a tablet, either Android or iPad, bring it and we’ll help you get it running on your tablet too.

After your screen is set up, join us in hacking to make it better meet your needs. What about adding Car2Go support? A bus arrival notifier? Weather information? More transit agencies? Improved support for individual users? A mobile version? If you’re a web designer, what about adding more flexibility to the interface? Improving the display and layout of the screen? I’ve put some suggestions on a bug tracker, but we want your ideas too.

If you can code in PHP, you can check out the code now. If you know Python or web design, you’ll have a chance to put those skills to work too. If you mostly code in other languages, like I do, it’s not a problem — we’ll help you get started. And if you can’t code yet, you can help us debug, design and document.

The Hack Day will run from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday, November 10 at 1501 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1100, in Rosslyn. It’s 2 blocks up from the Rosslyn Metro and just across the bridge from Georgetown. Please register here.